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John Lemon family papers

Identifier: Ms-0233

Scope and Content

The John Lemon family papers contain materials relating to personal, business, and professional activities of John Lemon. The materials span the years 1862-2000, with the bulk spanning the years 1862-1913. Most items dated after 1913 are either photographs or later genealogical material. The collection is divided into three series: Family papers, Business records, and Photographs. Both English and Spanish language documents are found in this collection.

The collection chronicles the family as well as the settlement of Mesilla, New Mexico in the mid to late 1800s. Included in the materials are brief genealogies of John Lemon and his wife Luciana Pope Lemon, which also includes her family’s history in Northern California where they met and married. Also included are records of Lemon’s election as Probate Judge for Doña Ana County, his service as Inspector of Customs, Marshall’s land deeds, and both John and Luciana Lemon’s wills. Documents pertaining to Lemon’s business interests and legal documents such as wills are contained in the Business records series. Images contained in the collection portray four generations of the Lemon family as well as Doña Ana County and the surrounding area.


  • 1862-2000 (bulk 1862-1913)

Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with copyright and other applicable statutes.

Copyrights associated with materials in this collection held by the Lemon family have been transferred to New Mexico State University.

Biographical Sketch

John Lemon was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania around 1831. He was orphaned at a young age and raised by an uncle. Lemon traveled from Pennsylvania to California by wagon train in 1848. He apparently joined another uncle in California, working as a mail carrier and then as a cowboy.

Lemon married Luciana Pope in 1849. Luciana Pope was the daughter of Julian Pope and Dona Maria Juliana Rodriguez, who were living in Napa Valley when John and Luciana met. The couple had seven children, Maria Juliana, Frank, John Jr., Calita Lemon Kennedy, Rose, Julia Lemon Christy and Katie Lemon. Only John Jr., Calita, Julia and Katie survived to adulthood.

The Lemons owned and operated a hotel in San Bernardino, California, in 1858. They sold the hotel in 1859 and for a time ran a resort hotel at Faywood, New Mexico, near City of the Rocks. Around 1860 the family settled in Mesilla, Territory of New Mexico.

In Mesilla, Lemon opened a mercantile store and a freighting business serving area forts including Fort Selden, Craig and Cummings. Customers of his businesses included Kit Carson, Gen. James Carleton, Judge Roy Bean, Daniel Frietze, Jacob Appelzoller, W. L. Rynerson and the Bennetts.

Lemon served as Doña Ana County Probate Judge during 1864-1869, and later served as Deputy Collector of U.S. Customs in Las Cruces, and as Customs Inspector in Mesilla.

Lemon's business interests were interrupted during the Confederate occupation of Mesilla during the American Civil War. His refusal to support Colonel Baylor resulted in imprisonment for a time and confiscation of his property. Lemon apparently was sentenced to be hanged but the punishment was not enforced.

After the Civil War, Lemon and William L. Rynerson worked to build the Republican party in Mesilla. On August 27, 1871, Lemon participated in a Republican rally held in Mesilla. The same day, the Democratic party also held a rally in a different area of the town. As the rallies ended the opposing sides converged in the Mesilla Plaza, where a riot ensued. Lemon, the first of nine fatalities of the riot, was clubbed in the head by Democratic leader I. N. Kelley.

Luciana Lemon married William Rynerson in December 1872. The Rynersons lived in Las Cruces. Luciana and Rynerson had three children: William Jr., Henry, and a daughter who died in infancy. Rynerson died in October 1893, and Luciana died on June 29, 1900.


2 linear feet, approx.

Language of Materials




John Lemon owned a mercantile store, freight business and flour mill owner in Mesilla, New Mexico. He also served as probate judge of Doña Ana County and later as Deputy Collector of U.S. customs in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photographs portray the Lemon family and the area of Doña Ana County.


  1. RG82-9 Gift of Fred Lemon, Jr.
  2. RG83-148 Gift of Fred Lemon
  3. RG84-58 Gift of Mrs. Fred (Joan) Lemon
  4. RG84-80 Gift of Fred J. Lemon, Jr.
  5. RG2004-077 Gift of Fred and Joan Lemon
  6. RG2004-078 Gift of Fred and Joan Lemon

Related Material

Isidoro Armijo family papers. Ms 0457. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department.

George Griggs family papers. Ms 0032. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department.


Contact Information

  1. Archives and Special Collections
  2. New Mexico State University Library
  3. P.O. Box 30006
  4. Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003-8006
  5. Phone: (575) 646-3839
  6. Fax: (575) 646-7477
  7. Email:
  8. URL:


Processing Information

Marah deMeule and Christine Moreland-Bruhnke, March 2000

Reprocessed and additional materials added by Dora Gonzales, September 2005
Guide to the John Lemon family papers, 1862-2000 (bulk 1862-1913)
Edited Full Draft
Processed by Marah deMeule and Christine Moreland-Bruhnke
© 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//New Mexico State University::Archives and Special Collections//TEXT (US::nmlcu::Ms 233::John Lemon family papers)//EN" "nmlcu1ms0233.sgml" converted to "nmlcums0233.xml" and revised by Charles Stanford.

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA